Thursday, 30 July 2009

Truly Great Customer Service: Learning From Bernie

We have got the builders in at home, Bernie and his gang. And they are rather amazing, they keep finding extra things to do. They changed the lock that used to stick, have fixed the window that has had a crack in it for years and sorted the leak from the shower. All for no extra charge. It is, of course, an inspired approach. None of that costs them much but it really delights us. I may have no idea whether their brickwork is better than the next guys but I was already all set to recommend them.

So what unexpected extras can you provide, just to delight your customers?

But it didn't stop with the little things. This week he's had one of his men spend 4 days re-pointing the back of the house. Again, no extra charge. This morning he discovered dry rot in the floorboards and he says he'll sort that too. Now this is getting ridiculous. But Bernie explained: "I hate charging extra so I build in some contingency in the original quote."

Would that approach work for you? Make the quote a bit higher and find some serious extras to include once you get started, that really meet the needs of the customer.

The result: Bernie hasn't had to search for work for years and won't need to even in the current climate. Everybody recommends him. Me included: if you want his details, just get in touch ( Though he only works in North London, and doesn't actually stray far beyond the streets of Stoke Newington and Crouch End.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Management Lesson from Tiger Woods

The July 6 2009 edition of Fortune has Tiger Woods, among others, talking about the "best advice I ever got".

'When I was young, maybe 6 or 7 years old, I'd play on the Navy golf course with my pop. My dad would say, "Okay, where do you want to hit the ball?" I'd pick a spot and say I want to hit it there. He'd shrug and say, "Fine, then figure out how to do it." He didn't position my arm, adjust my feet, or change my thinking. He just said go ahead and hit the darn ball. '

I think there is something profound here about how to help a talented individual develop. Let's translate it into management speak:

When you sit down with one of your people to plan their development, get them to set their own objective. Then ask them to figure out how to achieve it. Don't tell them how to do it, let them work out their own way. With your support.

That's it.